, a proposed 5,800-home development north of Brooksville, cleared an important hurdle this month when the Hernando Board of County Commissioners
voted 3-2 to send the plan to the Florida Department of Community Affairs
Should the Quarry Preserve plan clear its review, it would return to the county commission for further consideration as soon as late spring or early summer.
The county commission's decision to transmit the request to amend the county's comprehensive plan followed a similarly narrow approval in December by the county's Planning and Zoning Commission
This is the latest step in a process that began more than three years ago for developer Brooksville Quarry LLC.
"It's taken us that long to get here, but there were some challenges and opposition as relates to the property, so we've tried to put together a project that has all the right things associated with it," says attorney Jake Varn, who represents the developer.
The 4,280-acre limestone quarry was owned by Jacksonville-based Florida Rock Industries, which was
purchased by Vulcan Materials Company
in 2007. Varn said mining activity continues on about 150 acres of the land, but the land is expected to mined out long before the Quarry Preserve project would break ground in 2014 or 2015.
The developer predicts the project will create about 5,000 jobs, with an annual average earnings of about $158.4 million.
The project is being termed a "sustainable development," with "smart growth" plans that include a golf course, grocery stores, banks, restaurants, retail shops and office space. More than 1,000 acres would be dedicated to greenways, pedestrian trails and wildlife habitat.
It has faced opposition from local environmental activists and was recommended by the board of commissioners for transmittal despite reservations about urban sprawl raised by the county's planning staff.
Writer: Carter Gaddis
Source: Jake Varn, Fowler, White, Boggs